2A -The Michigan Daily - Monday, September 11, 2006
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U.S. soldiers controi the villages of Korengal Val-
ly by a binocular in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar
U.S. troops still
Five years after 9/11 attack,
American forces believe about 100
insurgents are hiding in mountains
KORANGAL VALLEY, Afghanistan (AP) - At
night, the mountains glow from artillery strikes.
By day, gunbattles echo down the valley. Five years
after the Sept. 11 attack, Americans are battling al-
Qaida militants in this remote area where the U.S.
military says the group hatched the terror plot.
Only about 100 hard-core Afghan, Arab and Pak-
istani insurgents operate in the Korangal Valley, but
this is where the U.S. last year suffered its worst
combat loss in Afghanistan and where the military
believes at least second-tier al-Qaida leaders still
hide and plan attacks.
Many of the U.S. soldiers here see their offensive
as a chance to avenge the assault on America, and to
calm a hot bed of the Afghan insurgency.
"From all the areas we have been through,
this one is the most active," said Capt. Michael
Schmidt of the 10th Mountain Division from Fort
"There are a lot of bad guys in this valley," the 30-
year-old Marylander added, his M-16 assault rifle
resting in the carved out hole of a bunker overlook-
ing a village where U.S. troops think they killed at
least two insurgents yesterday.
At the end of August, the U.S. Army launched
Operation Big Northern Wind seeking to wipe out
militants in Kunar province's Korangal Valley and
expand the control of the Afghan government - part
of a drive by 20,000 coalition soldiers to secure the
volatile frontier with Pakistan.
The drive comes amid Afghanistan's worst vio-
lence since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban
regime at the end of 2001 for giving haven to Osama
bin Laden and al-Qaida training bases.
Bush to mark 9/11 with memorial visits
President Bush embarked yesterday on nearly 24 hours of somber observances
at the three sites where terrorists wrought death and destruction and transformed
He intended to offer few words during appearances at ground zero in New York
where the World Trade Centers fell, in the Pennsylvania field where one of the
hijacked planes hurtled to the ground and at the Pentagon crash site. But Ameri-
cans will hear more from him during a prime-time address tonight from the Oval
Even before Bush left the capital, surrogates from Vice President Dick Cheney
on down spent the Sept. 11 anniversary's eve vigorously defending the administra-
tion's record on improving the national defense over the past five years.
RAMALLAH, West Bank
Blair coaxes Israeli, Palestinian leaders to meet
Prodded by Britain's visiting leader, the Israeli prime minister and Palestinian
president said yesterday they are ready to resume contacts without conditions
- a small step that many people hope could lead to resuming peace talks.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair also tried to draw Hamas into peace efforts,
but the militant Islamic group that controls the Palestinian government rejected
his condition that it first renounce violence and recognize Israel.
Despite Hamas' tough stance, the readiness of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to meet was the first sign of
movement in peacemaking in months.
"For the past months, the situation has gone backwards and not forwards,"
Blair said at a news conference. But now, he added, "there is window of oppor-
tunity, even if it does seem very bleak."
Standing alongside the British leader, Abbas said he was prepared to sit down
Iran considers suspending enrichment
Iran is ready to consider complying - at least temporarily - with a U.N.
Security Council demand that it freeze uranium enrichment, which can be used in
developing atomic weapons, diplomats told The Associated Press yesterday.
Such a concession would be a major departure by Tehran as it faces possible
U.N. sanctions for its nuclear defiance and would be a huge step toward defusing a
confrontation over the program it says is only aimed at generating electricity. -
The compromise was mentioned by senior Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Lari-
jani during two-day talks that ended yesterday with European Union foreign policy
chief Javier Solana, the diplomats said.
Florence grows into hurricane, nears Bermuda
Florence intensified into the second hurricane of the Atlantic season yester-
day as it neared Bermuda, where residents stocked up on provisions and formed
long lines at gas stations in the lashing rain.
Florence was expected to pass "very near" the tiny British territory today,
according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. But it was too early to tell
whether it will make a direct hit.
Preparations to protect life and property "should be rushed to completion,"the
hurricane center said.
Shopkeepers and homeowners boarded up windows and doors, with one
closed flower shop bearing the sign: "We've gone away to chase away Flor-
ence. Back Tuesday."
- Compiledfrom Daily wire reports
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